The Paradox Of The Serial Entrepreneur

What you think is impressive, may not be

by Jason Falls |

I’m always amused when someone proudly describes what they are or do by using the term, “serial entrepreneur.” The more technology companies I encounter, the more founders and C-level folks waive that banner as if it’s some sort of badge of honor.

I suppose if you’ve created and sold a number of companies for lots of money, being a serial entrepreneur is a good thing. But most people who use the term (at least to me) have only started several companies. They’ve never sold them.

What they’re really saying by “serial entrepreneur” is one or more of the following:

  • None of my ideas have worked
  • I can’t raise money
  • I have no attention span
  • My passion is about getting lucky and making a wad of money

A friend of mine calls himself a serial entrepreneur. He helped build one company as a young man and made a meager profit as a vested employee. He then started his own company, spent 10 years building it and sold it for low seven-figures. He’s now on his second company that he started with only himself and his former business partner as an investor. They’ve been at it six years now. He’s in his 50s.

When someone that age and with that history tells me he’s a serial entrepreneur, he’s saying:

  • I know how to build a company
  • I know how to sell a company
  • I’m focused on my business
  • My passion is about building something of value

It’s a different spin and it’s not subtle.

If you’re calling yourself a serial entrepreneur and you have as many companies or ideas as you have zits, you’re not impressing anyone. In fact, you may be hurting your chances of making headway toward becoming a real one.

Food for thought. Yours are welcome in the comments.

About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).